Author Archive

I want to be my own boss, take risks and prosper from them!

February 18, 2014


As a young female entrepreneur fresh out of college the question everyone asks me is:

Sarah why didn’t you get a graduate job?

The answer always is: I want to be my own boss, take risks and prosper from them!

I count myself very lucky that I learned early on in life that my journey is my journey and I didn’t need to follow the ‘norm’ in getting a graduate job, but follow my dream in becoming a female ‘high flyer’ and strive to hopefully provide jobs for other graduates like myself in the near future.

I love every aspect of business, especially management and leadership. I want to empower and lead a team of ‘A’ players, as Steve Jobs did say.

There have been a few challenges I encountered in starting up UniWink, but the main challenge for me is filling in the gaps that exist within the UniWink management team.

My co-founder/brother, Mark and I both have Marketing and Management backgrounds, which means we clearly lack the IT skills needed to develop the online platform. The solution is still underway; we are continuing to secure funding to allow us to outsource the IT work following from the prototype development this March.

Since starting the UCC IGNITE Graduate Business Start-up Programme in October 2013, UniWink is continuing to grow from strength to strength. I have learned so much about what it takes to be a successful entrepreneur: hard work, patience, passion, self-discipline and most importantly having fun along the way.

The programme has thought me the concept of devising a business model and continuing to test my assumptions by going out into the market directly, asking the customers what they want, instead of telling them what they want and thereby creating value (wise words from Eamon the programme co-ordinator).

So what gives me a real buzz?

Interacting with the target market, bouncing ideas off them and the feeling that UniWink can really help the student community ‘Collaborate to Graduate’! We are by students for students, and strive to build a virtual learning community that fosters peer to peer assistant social collaboration. And this really gives me a buzz!

So there you are!

I’m Sarah Dineen, co-founder of “Let’s collaborate to Graduate” coming soon to a campus near you..

The IGNITE Programme is funded by Cork City Council, Cork County Council, Cork County & City Enterprise Boards and UCC/Bank of Ireland.

The Benefits of Food Branding

January 20, 2014

Why exactly is branding so important in the food game?

What precisely is a brand? And what benefits does it deliver to its owner?

Firstly it is important to understand that a food brand only exists in the mind of your target consumer or not at all!

This may seem confusing but it highlights the fact that your food ‘brand’ lives or dies in the way your consumer perceives your food brand. ( i.e. The reputation of your brand )

I often hear food start-ups say…..‘Sure, I make good food products and my food business has a name – that surely means that I have a brand?

To answer this question, think about the following:

  • A product is made in a factory
  • A brand is bought by a customer
  • A product can be copied
  • A brand is unique
  • A product can become outdated
  • A successful brand is timeless

So you can see that whilst a food product has physical attributes, crucially, a brand has both Rational and Emotional qualities that create a brand perception in the mindset of the target consumer – Conveying much more than what the mere food product is, what it is called, and how it performs physically.

Brand Positioning quad - Bullseye, Ignite Programme

We often hear customers say to us in market research studies..…‘I’ll only buy that food brand because I don’t like any other ones’.

But in reality, how great are the physical differences between many food products. In reality are the differences created in the mind of the customer through the brands overall perception?

I once worked in a large food factory where the only difference in the product on shelf was the packaging and the price pint – Everything else inside was the exact same product physically! So consumers were paying 20% more for the exact same product based purely on the brand perception – The BRAND perception!

I think that this famous quote from Revlon explains brand perception very well ‘In the factory we make cosmetics but in the stores we sell hope’.

This explains nicely how Revlon sees the qualities of their brand extending far beyond the mere rational and physical capabilities of their products – creating a strong emotional brand in the mindset of their loyal customers.

This can also be demonstrated by looking at the properties of a strong food brand from two different points of view:

The Customers View

  • Saves me time when I’m choosing what food to buy
  • Dependable, Consistent
  • Easier to mentally choose when shopping
  • Gives me Reassurance and a Quality Guarantee

The Owners View

  • More resistant to price competition
  • Commands a higher price and better margin
  • Enjoys higher loyalty levels
  • Can have an indefinitely longer life with innovative new product development (NPD)

So the success of a food brand lies in the mindset of your target consumer and on both the Rational and Emotional responses of consumers to your food brand.

Without the appropriate customer reaction, and perception, a brand is valueless!

Brand Positioning Chart - BullsEye, Ignite Programme

So how is a strong food brand created?

Brands feed off the environment in which they live. How they are placed in relation to their competitors is crucial. This is called ‘brand positioning’ and is based on what a food brand does and who it does it for.

But simply getting the brand positioning correct is not enough.

Today, too many food brands are positioned too close together and competing for the same markets and shelf space.

There are over 50,000 individual food product lines ( or SKU’s ) in an average multiple supermarket like Tesco or Dunnes Stores. There is only so much space in store. The mantra today from retail buyers is ‘less is more’ – They want less duplication of food products and less product lines to keep in stock.

After all a standard Aldi or Lidl ‘discounter’ store has only 1,500 individual food product lines and with that they have now 14% market share between them. SO maybe less is more!

These days, true differentiation which will lead to the creation of a strong food brand relies on the establishment of both a unique Emotional ‘brand personality’ backed up by very strong and innovative Rational unique selling points.

Brand Positioning & Personality Versus your competitors……..

Brand Positioning:

What does your food brand do ( Rationally and Emotionally ) for your consumers? What problem does it solve? More Natural? More convenient? Healthier? Free from? More Premium?…etc.

Who exactly does your food brand do these things for? Which target market exactly? ( Can you describe the needs, attitudes, behaviours and demographics that identifies the mindset of your target consumers )

Brand Personality:

To explain ‘brand personality’ I often use the analogy of a person’s personality. Brands are a bit like people that way. If your brand came to life what sort of person would it be? What sort of personality would it have? How would it dress and act? What characteristics would it have?

After all, food brands are often judged in the same way as people judge their friends.

What is the personality of your brand? Can you describe the characteristics of your brand in terms similar to those used about a person. The result should be a clearly, defined food brand personality! )

Brand Essence - Bullsyeye, Ignite Programme

The 3 P’s

Your 3 P’s, as they are known, should be the foundation stones of your food brand creation in order to create a unique and powerful food brand proposition.

Presentation – Brand & Packaging design.

Price – Price Positioning relative to competitors on shelf

Performance – Unique Selling Points

And finally – 6 Key points to remember when creating your food brand…………..

1. Branding should affect everything that you do with the management of your food brand and its marketing mix: Product functionality / USP’s, Packaging, quality, Pricing, Promotion, Point of sale, & Distribution – Everything that interfaces with your customer! Every touch point!

2. Branding is the business of meaning. When a customer sees your food brand, the key question is what does it mean to them? What problem does it solve? What reputation does it have in the mindset of your target consumer?

3. Branding is not who you believe you are or indeed whether you are, but rather who your target consumer believes you are! ( Perception is reality! )

4. Make sure you distinguish between RATIONAL product attributes and EMOTIONAL brand benefits. ( Sell the Sizzle as well as the Sausage! )

5. Your food brand should be a combination of Rational product benefits ( or unique selling points ) and Emotional added values. With today’s food technology, food product advantages and recipes can be easily and quickly copied by a competitor so when you have them, use them to reinforce YOUR brand before your competitors do. ( The first brand to gain market share and get the listings takes the ‘High Ground’ ).

6. The principles of building a strong food brand:

  • Insightful consumer understanding
  • Clearly defined Target audience
  • Clarity of communication
  • Clearly defined Unique Selling Points / Benefits
  • Clearly Defined market focus
  • Creation of a clear and relevant ‘brand personality’
  • Consistency of brand positioning
  • Progressive brand evolution and New Product Development

Conor Hyde - Bullseye Food Marketing - IGNITE ProgrammeConor Hyde is the CEO of Bullseye Food Marketing and is a Mentor of the IGNITE Programme, which is an incubation initiative at University College Cork to aid graduates with start up businesses, products and ideas.

The UCC IGNITE Graduate Business Innovation Programme is funded by Cork City Council, Cork County Council, Cork County & City Enterprise Boards and Bank of Ireland.